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Posts Tagged ‘Rana Clamitans’

frog

Okay, bad pun, but it is nice to find a little Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) nestled onto the sill of the screen door. This little guy (or girl? Females are larger than males and this one was quite big.) spent the day there and moved on some time in the night. Gray Treefrogs are noted for the large adhesive pads on the tips of their toes, which are just visible on this individual. They also have notable colour-changing abilitiy, and the same frog may vary from light gray to brown to pale green. Changing colour takes a bit of time, an hour or more, depending on factors such as the temperature. It is not uncommon to come across an occasional representative of the species through the summer, when they are found in deciduous or mixed forests, woodlots, swamps, old fields and even suburban yards with appropriate plant cover and breeding territory nearby. However, the time when Gray Treefrogs really make their presence known is the spring. If you are near a wetland on a spring evening, especially one ringed with willows and dogwood, you are likely to hear the short trills of Gray Treefrogs ringing out into the night.

toad

Just beyond the doorway, American Toads ((Bufo americanus) are common in and around the garden. This was a mid-sized specimen, perhaps a young toad of this year. Toads are regarded as garden helpers as they eat a variety of insects, spiders and slugs. A few days ago, I spied a garter snake making off with a small toad in its mouth. I resisted the urge to try to save the little toad, which we tend to identify with. Snakes need to eat too.

greenfrog

This fine big Green Frog (Rama clamitans) was just outside the front door last Saturday. It didn’t seem bothered by having a photographer leaning over it and had to be encouraged to move into the garden where it was safer. You can clearly see the dorsolateral fold, the ridge of skin that extends from each eye to about one-half to two-thirds of the way down the back, and around the rear of the tympanum. In mature males, the throat is bright yellow, while females have light yellow or cream-coloured throats. This seems to be a female.

One evening when I turned the porch light on, I noticed the individual below sitting on the step. It’s colour doesn’t identify its species as readily as is the case with the amphibians above. Another Green Frog maybe? It does seem to have a green lip.

frog2

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pondreflection

Reflection

The other day, I walked down to the pond to see what the inhabitants were up to. As soon as I got there, I turned around and walked back to the house, because I was greeted by a horde of deer flies. I put on a sweatshirt, even though it was a warm day, to save swatting at my arms. Back at the pond, I took stock of who was out and about.

bluetpairs

Along the shore, dozens of bluets were zipping back and forth and perching on vegetation along the edge of the water. Many pairs were flying in tandem, or were forming a copulation wheel, the position in which the male transfers a packet of sperm to the female.

bluetpair2

You know that “I’m being watched” feeling? Down by the pond, you don’t have to be paranoid to believe that many eyes are watching you. A lot of those eyes belong to frogs. As I walked along the shore, every few yards a large frog would leap into the pond before my advance. Many more simply rested in the water and watched from a safe distance. The pond is home to a sizable population of Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) and a fewer number of Green frogs (Rana clamitans). One charismatic character seemed to have a Mona Lisa smile:

pondsmilingfrog

Another was floating in a relaxed posture as if enjoying a day at the beach…which I guess he was!

pondfloatingfrog

This big fellow sang a few bars of his throbbing love song for me. Well, maybe I wasn’t the female he had in mind…

pondbullfrog

Along the shore, schools of tiny fish fry and minnows swam by.

pondfish

The vegetation, both in the water and along the edges is full and luxuriant. There is plentiful pondweed (Potamogeton sp.) to provide cover for floating frogs and little fish. Along the shore, Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) adds a touch of colour.

pondswampmilkweed

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purdontwinflower

While the Showy Lady’s Slipper Orchids are the star of the show at this time of the year, they are by no means the only feature of interest at Purdon Conservation Area. Twinflowers (Linnaea borealis) were also blooming in the fen. These delicate, moisture-loving flowers are the smallest members of the honeysuckle family. Their upright stalks terminate in a fork, with each side bearing a single pale, pinky-white trumpet-shaped flower.

purdonpictureplant

The Pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is carnivorous and uses insects for food. Rainwater collects in the hollow leaves of the plant, where an insect-digesting enzyme is mixed with the water. Insects are attracted into the leaves and are unable to escape because of smooth hairs at the opening. In this way, pitcher plants are able to survive in nutrient-poor environments where other plants could not. In early summer, wine and green-coloured flowers are produced on stems separate from the tubular leaves.

purdongreenfrog

Flowers aren’t the only attraction. I also saw a sampling of wildlife. Here is a Green Frog (Rana Clamitans). Check out the green upper lip on this dude!

purdonewhiteadmiral2

Several White Admirals (Limenitis arthemis) floated by. These woodland butterflies are common and widespread. Interestingly, White Admirals and Red-spotted Purple butterflies are different morphs of the same species. Their larval food plants include willows, cottonwoods and poplars.

I disturbed this Garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), who had been contentedly sunning itself on the boardwalk until I arrived on the scene, prompting his hasty departure.

purdonsnake

The fen lies at the bottom of a hill, where it is fed by water runoff. Climbing the trail to the lookout on top of the ridge offers a view over the pond that borders the fen. The pond was created in the 1960s by introduced beavers, who dammed the small creek that was draining the area. The conservation area thus features 3 kinds of wetland, with marsh and swamp around the edge of the pond complimenting the fen. A fen differs from a bog in that it has a groundwater source. The moving water brings nutrients and reduces the build-up of acidity. A bog has no water source except rainwater and snowmelt. It is therefore nutrient-poor and highly acidic.

purdonhighmarshview

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